The Issue and Its Results
Philadelphia Daily News, March 15, 1861
It is feared that the threatened permanent disruption of our Republic may have an unwholesome effect upon the cause of popular liberty throughout the world. Already the monarchists of Europe are exulting at what they consider the failure of the American experiment of self-government.
This fear and exultation are altogether premature. Even should our Confederacy be permanently divided, the principles underlying our Constitution will not have received a single shock, except in the fancies of those who are incapable of comprehending the true issue. It is not Constitutional civil liberty which is at stake in the present American crisis, but the Union of the States. It is not a question of the benefits of general freedom or of the practicability of popular institutions, but as to whether two classes of people, with wholly different domestic institutions and sentiments, which have made them almost two distinct races, can live together in harmony under the same general government.
Whether we are two nations or one, the vast majority in either case will still be ardent republicans, for the people have become so thoroughly imbued with the democratic spirit, that it would now be impossible to sustain a hereditary monarchy in any part of the country, for any length of time. That there are monarchists among the Southern secessionists, we have the best reasons for believing, but this circumstance is rather in favor of our position than otherwise. Those who are monarchists have always been aristocrats, and are now also traitors and insurrectionists, and they are a disgrace to absolutism, whose disciples they are, rather than to republicanism. Still, we do not believe that the masses of the Southern people are any less democratic than ourselves, and many of them may be more ardently so.
It is not at all, as we have said, an issue between monarchy and republicanism, that has produced the present crisis. It is merely the result of a conflict concerning domestic institutions, and particularly of political divisions resulting in defeat, humiliated pride and disappointed personal ambition.
We do not anticipate anything more than a temporary retarding of our national prosperity and advancement, from the separation of the Confederacy, even should it be permanent, and the love of civil liberty, inherent in every American bosom, will remain untarnished, and ardent as ever.
An English traveler in the Southern States a few years ago, gave the result of his observations on American affairs in Blackwood's Magazine. We give the following extract from those articles, as the opinions of an intelligent Englishman upon a crisis which was then only anticipated, and also as reflecting very nearly our own views already expressed, as to the consequences of a division of the Republic:
"At present the popular opinion, founded a good deal on traditionary sentiment, is, that such a separation would be disastrous to both sections. I think very differently. The interests of Texas and Maine are too far opposed to be confided in the same Federal Government. When this feeling becomes popular, as I think it must, the North will perhaps find that their interest and their principle united may induce them to force upon the South that crisis for which, when in power, the latter alone would not suffice, and both parties having begun to regard with complacency an event which is now only mentioned with regret, if not actual horror, a separation might be amicably effected, and two noble republics might be formed, each better able to develope their varied resources, and, by the increase of their commerce, to exchange more abundantly for the wealth of Europe the teeming produce of the West."
Last Updated: July 10, 2007 3:44 PM